Online learning website Udemy announces its official launch today. The site has been in testing for several months and has amassed over 1000 active users spread over some 400 courses.

Udemy's goal is "to democratize online education" by providing tools so that educators can easily create their own online courses.

Courses on Udemy allow students to interact with their instructors both synchronously and asynchronously, which is more than offered by educational videos or presentations posted to YouTube or SlideShare. Students subscribe to courses on Udemy so their instructors can communicate with them through blog posts, discussion boards, and virtual conferencing. The site's Live Virtual Classroom allows instructors to host virtual conferences with students, utilizing live video, a whiteboard, and a chatroom.

Courses currently on Udemy range from a Columbia University class on "The Masterpieces of Western Art" to an "Introduction to Poker."

At present, classes on the site are free, but Udemy has plans to allow teachers the option to charge for the courses they offer on the site. While online learners are certain to benefit from the added interaction and community Udemy provides, it may be this ability to earn some extra money that brings teachers and tutors to the service.

"We believe there are many smart people out there that could leverage Udemy to educate over the Internet," says Udemy founder Gagan Biyani. As reports indicate that interest and enrollment in online courses is skyrocketing, Udemy wants to offer the opportunity for anyone to teach or learn online.